The University of Miami hired longtime National Football League executive and Hurricanes great Alonzo Highsmith as general manager of football operations in 2022.
“Alonzo is a true Miami Hurricane,” head coach Mario Cristobal said. “He understands the commitment and sacrifice it takes to be a champion on and off the field. His tremendous passion for the University of Miami and this city is unparalleled.
“Alonzo brings experience as a student-athlete, a first-round NFL draft pick and an NFL executive. He shares our vision for the trajectory and the culture of this football program, and his knowledge and experience will allow him to make a positive and powerful impact on our program and community. I am fired up to welcome home another Miami Hurricane!”
As general manager of football operations, Highsmith will work directly with Cristobal to support all administrative functions of the football program, including budget related items, culture building, program imaging, and working directly with staff members both on and off the field. He will also serve as a liaison between the administration and football program, serve as a liaison between former Miami players and staff, assist with scouting and roster assessment and supervise NFL relations.
“We are excited to welcome Alonzo back to Coral Gables,” Vice President/Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich said. “His extensive experience as an NFL executive will provide tremendous value to our football operations. In addition, we are looking forward to having him as a member of our senior administrative team.”
Highsmith, who played running back for the Hurricanes from 1983-1986, boasts 29 years’ experience and 18 playoff appearances as an NFL player, scout and executive. He has spent the past 23 years in scouting and personnel, most recently serving as senior executive advisor to the general manager for the Seattle Seahawks.
“It is an honor to come back to the University of Miami and I am very humbled,” Highsmith said. “The opportunity to work with Mario Cristobal and Dan Radakovich, as well as my passion and love for the city of Miami is what brought me back. I could not pass up this opportunity and this challenge.”
Prior to his stint in Seattle, Highsmith served as vice president of personnel for the Cleveland Browns from 2018 to 2019. Before joining the Browns, he spent 19 seasons in the Green Bay Packers’ player personnel department.
Highsmith joined the Packers as a college scout in 1999 and spent 13 years on their college scouting staff. He was promoted to senior personnel executive in 2012 and remained in that role through the 2017 season. During his time in Green Bay, the Packers earned 13 trips to the playoffs, captured nine NFC North division titles and won Super Bowl XLV.
Highsmith was the third overall selection by the Houston Oilers in the 1987 NFL Draft, the highest drafted running back in Miami history. He spent his first three seasons (1987-89) with Houston, starting 40 consecutive games for three playoff teams, before being traded to Dallas. He spent a year and a half (1990-91) with the Cowboys before finishing his career with Tampa Bay (1991-92). He retired after the 1992 season following a series of knee injuries. He appeared in 65 career regular season games and rushed for 1,195 yards on 283 carries with seven touchdowns. He added 42 receptions for 428 yards and three touchdowns. Following his NFL playing career, Highsmith spent four years as a professional heavyweight boxer, compiling a 27-1-1 career record.
Highsmith starred at Miami’s Columbus High School before lettering four years at Miami, playing for legendary coaches Howard Schnellenberger and Jimmy Johnson. As a freshman fullback he led the Hurricanes in rushing in the 1984 Orange Bowl, helping Miami defeat Nebraska to win the first of its five national championships.
Highsmith led the Hurricanes with a career-high 906 rushing yards as a sophomore, and again paced Miami in rushing yards his senior season (442). He finished his career with 1,914 rushing yards, which at the time was second only to Ottis Anderson on Miami’s all-time rushing yards list. Highsmith amassed 2,935 career all-purpose yards, and 25 total touchdowns. He earned a degree in business administration and in 1997 was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame.
Highsmith and his wife, Denise, have five children, Alonzo, A.J., Jordan, Jasmine and Brandon.